Archive for October, 2007

I find it so interesting, reading other knitting blogs and forum, to hear the reactions some knitters get from strangers when they KIP (knit in public).  Til now, I’ve been something of a closet-knitter: all my friends and family know, but I rarely took my work out into the world, mostly because I am usually dragging a toddler.  But I think now I will start a research project, purposely taking my knitting into strange places to see people’s reactions, and spread the knitting virus.

Well, I did take it out recently, and had my first responses.  My daughter goes to Kumon (an afterschool math program) and while I waited, I knit. One woman, who kind of knows me, said something about how the wait gives me time to be productive.  But the cool stuff came from a little boy.

I’m guessing he was about my daughters age-7, ironically (she is fasinated with my knitting at the moment). As soon as he came into the room, he said hello to his mom, and then walked right up to me. With big eyes, he said “I’ve never seen anyone knit before!” The exclaimation point there is inportant- he really seemed surprised and impressed.  He sat right down next to me to watch.  I was pleased, of course, by his admiration.  I was also a little freaked out by his closeness- ever noticed how you start to lose track of your pattern, or slip a stitch or whatever as soon as someone starts watching?

But the little boy really made my day, anyhow.  If I had had another set of needles or a ball of yarn, I would have offered to teach him.  My daughter (hereby know as Libby) is learning to knit now- well, she’d say she already knows how to knit, since she has managed to do about 10 rows of stocking stitch.  It is a real kick to see your kid knit, although the patience necessary to teach her required a brandy infusion.  Still, I love to see the pride on her face when she shows off what she’s done.

 In other things, I’m finally trying to post my first picture.  This is of a sweater I did for Libby (who is also the model here), and was one of my first attempts to go pattern-free.  I made the sleeves just a little to wide at the shoulder seams, so I tried to make a kinda puffed sleeve.  Libby picked out the buttons- some are awful for sweater holes, but she had lots of fun choosing them.  It has been around for a few years, so its well-worn and too small for her now (but she will never give it to her little sister).  The cute redhead in the front is Libby’s little sister and constant tagalong, Kes (short for Kesara).  She’s still waiting for her first sweater.

Yummy Buttons

If this works, I’ll start posting pictures as much as i can

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frugal knitting

I know that no one is listening yet, but I’m used to talking to myself.

 I am paid by a US company, and when i started my job back in 2003, that worked to my advantage.  I made about $1275 US, and took home sometimes as much as $1800.  That, plus the fact that I was a single mom and so received about $300 from the government in baby bonus (for one kid!), was a satisfactory living.  I still couldn’t afford a car, but I could afford swimming lessons for my daughter, and go out to for the occassional cup of joe with my friends.

But with the new currency exchange, despite many a raise over the years, i am seriously hurting for cash.  I now bring home around $1450, and since I am back with my husband, and have one more child, my baby bonus is barely $200 for both of the kids.  Yes, my husband contributes, but he works minimum wage, and after he buys cigarettes and pop and all the other crap- well, we can afford some groceries, but every month I have to beg, borrow, and do what I can to come up with money for Girl Guide uniforms and fees, and school photos and fundraising drives… oh, and clothes, diapers, cookies… etc. etc.

So purchasing yarn most of the time is beyond reach.  I admit, I occasionally do it, and suffer for it eventually.  But most of the time I search through my stash for something to use.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, I am infamous for starting a project and then quitting it.  Mostly this is because I leave it so long I forget where the hell i was- would it surprise you if I said my house was disorganized too?  But I’m working on that.  Still, it means I have several balls of yarn available for a new project.  Of course, if I didn’t buy the yarn for a project I wasn’t going to finish, I might have the money to buy yarn for the project i want to do now… ah, but chaos is enticing!

 So an incomplete baby sweater becomes a 7 year olds poncho.  Perhaps not ideal- if its not pink or purple, its not perfect to a 7 year old girl.  But an opportunity to try a new pattern, to take me away from the insanity that surrounds me, an excuse not to do the dishes.  We all need something.

Otherwise, I need to find another job.  Like I have anymore free time.  Seriously, I have no idea how I’m going to manage it.  But I also have no idea how I’m going to pay my mastercard bill this month if I don’t find more work.  I could sit here and bitch about my darling husbands lack of ambition (he’ll never read this, after all), but I find that just gets me more crap from friends and family, and besides, after the first time we separated I promised myself I would always make enough that i could support my children by myself if I needed to.  And I need to support my knitting habit too.

This post has lacked a bit of focus, but then so do I…

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Knit without Guilt

I have been taught to knit a dozen times, easy, by my patient mother over many, many years.  I think the first time I was about 7.  By the time I was 9, I must have forgotten, since I recall her explaining it again.  That went on for years, then I put down the needles in exchange for a boyfriend. Then in some bizarre example of my fragile sanity I decided to make a frog sweater for my 4 year old nephew- having never accomplished more than a scarf or two in my younger days. 

Not only was the project itself a tremendous leap forward in my knitting skill, I had forgotton how to do those magic little stitches, and my teacher (poor mom) was miles away, linked only by the telephone.  This was before the internet was such a magical land of information, and I was too poor (and cheap) to attend a knitting class.

Have you ever tried to give knitting instructions over the phone?  My mom has. 

Give me a glass of brandy and I can give you lots of complaints about my mom.  Like anyone, I can think of plenty of things to bitch about in regards to my upbringing.  But my mother deserves a olympic medal for patience!  (After raising 6 kids, she’d have to be veritable yogi of patience!) That poor woman must have spent 10 hours in total on the phone with me, trying to explain “to knit, go in from the left side.  Your left, not mine…”

Fortunately the relationship didn’t not suffer from that chaotic conversation.  The sweater, however, is a different story. The sleeves were different sizes, my tension was a nightmare, and there were gapping holes everywhere, since I never bothered to ask my mother how to put in a new color mid-row. 

My nephew welcomed the gift with the same response you’d expect from any kid- he asked for a cookie.  My sister mocked the sweater.  Mocked is a mild word. She teased relentlessly.  She put it on.  and it fit!  Well, fit her better than my nephew. 

But I was crushed.  I was angry, and proud.  I mean, my sister couldn’t thread a needle if her life depended on it, and here I had actually made a sweater!  Sure, it was a sweater that would only look good on a bumpy monster with arms of 2 different lengths, but goddammit, it looked like a sweater!  And I finished it… I didn’t stick it in a box half complete, I actually finished it!

I don’t pretend that I was suddenly smitten by the knitting bug right then and there, but it gave me encouragement.  The next year I made a hat for another nephew, which he did really appreciate (he called it his ‘jingle hat’, and wore it dillegently).  I also made my sister and her partner a pair of mittens… her comment was “I didn’t know you could knit!”, which was a big step up from the scorn borne of the sweater.

Many, many years passed, usually with a project or two a year- small stuff, like hats and scarves.  It wasn’t until I was pregnant that my urge to do a sweater was reborn.  And I did it- and I was really proud.  My very large baby only fit the 3 month-size sweater and hat for a week, but it is an heirloom none the less.  She is now 7 years old, but she keeps it in her special box, and tell the story to anyone who will listen. 

She has received a few sweaters since, and hats and scarves and a poncho.  Most are variation on a basic sweater pattern, and not all were completely successful: the hood to one is really just for esthetics- it didn’t fit her head at all.

But they all taught me something.  And now my mother comes to me for advice!  I love that!  I actually showed her how to add new colors to a row: thanks to the internet for teaching me.

But life is a struggle, and bills have to be paid and butts need to be wiped, and frankly I don’t knit as much as I want to.  I have another child now, who will be 2 in december, who has yet to receive anything knitted by her mom- I made one sweater, that I still think is beautiful, but she is such an adorable chubby baby, she looks like a frilly stuffed sausage in it- it took her sister and I some serious effort to get her out of it.  And it is a rule of sibling rivalry, I have since learned, that the older child will insist that every other knitted product must be for her, or else it is painfully obvious that you love the baby best.

Parenting is often a thankless job, and unfortunately it isn’t my only one- I also work as an editorial assistant for a science journal (gratefully, from home) and a book reviewer, and any other odd job I can find, and they all pay too little and every cent goes to pay for the daily needs of the children.  I find I am totally stressed of late, and I have acquired that horrible habit of most moms of putting everyone else before myself.

Well, as of now I’m changing all that.  Oh, I won’t neglect my girls, but I am giving something to myself too.  I want to be able to pursue my own passion- knitting- and so I’m giving myself permission to knit without guilt, whenever I bloody well want! 

In fact, I’ve decided to go for the Master Knitter’s program offered by the Knitting Guild Association.  Paying for it will be a bit of a challenge, so I haven’t purchased it yet, but I will soon enough.  Until then I will push forward and learn something new with each of my projects.

Which I should really be doing now, while no kid is pulling at my sleeve or screaming in my ear.  That would be somewhere between 5 and 6 am.

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